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Last Updated: Tuesday, 4 October 2005, 15:00 GMT 16:00 UK
Willetts: We must save freedoms
David Willetts
Mr Willetts said a 'strong society' was a key part of conservatism
Conservatives must protect the UK's "personal freedom" and "historic liberties", Shadow Energy Secretary David Willetts has said.

But the party had to "communicate our beliefs in a way that wins the hearts and minds of the British people".

Mr Willetts warned the Tory conference in Blackpool against "lazy repetition of empty words" at the next election.

The party had to preserve what was unique about the UK, defending it from Labour's "constitutional vandalism".

'Complete free trade'

Mr Willetts said the Conservative Party had to face up to the pensions crisis, make the case for nuclear power and exempt small businesses from EU directives.

There also needed to be "complete free trade" between Europe and North America.

Mr Willetts said: "We believe in personal freedom, rooted in our historic liberties and protected by the common law and limited government.

"That underpins our commitment to a flexible market economy."

He added: "We understand that personal freedoms can only exist within a strong society. There is also a deep human need for belonging and community.

"That's why families matter so much. This is the Conservatism that people feel at home with."

The party had to learn the "lessons of successive election defeats".

It also needed to "transform the way we conduct ourselves", a "thorough review of our policies" and "a complete overhaul of our organisation".

Mr Willetts is supporting Shadow Home Secretary David Davis in the Conservative leadership contest.


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